Control Your Smartphone Using Head and Eye Gestures with Umoove

There was a recent rumor about Galaxy S5 coming with head- and eye-gesture control, but it looks like an Israeli tech startup got ahead of Samsung in this aspect.

Umoove Experience, as the iPhone app (oh, the irony!) developed by the company is called, shows how face tracking technology can be used for playing games, even though the applications of this revolutionary control method go beyond that. As a proof that Umoove doesn’t intend to tease Samsung and the Android platform endlessly, the company promised that soon there would be a version of the app for Google’s mobile OS, as well. More than that, Umoove hopes that both Android and iOS developers will include this technology into their own apps and games.

Yitzi Kempinski, the CEO of Umoove, explained in an interview with Gizmag that “Umoove is not coming to replace touch, it is coming to add another layer and it opens an opportunity for new types of interfaces. A classic example is a first person shooter where you would shoot using touch and you could walk using a touch joystick, but you would aim and look around just by where you face.”

Some may be concerned about the accuracy of the motion capture, but Kempinski reminds them that “The tracking is both accurate and very sensitive, it senses movement as small as represented by one pixel of the image the camera captures. And we had to do it all at very low CPU, to not take over the device resources and leave room for the actual apps/games to run.” It’s great to know that the app and the technology itself is not power-hungry, especially considering today’s feeble smartphone batteries.

Kempinski also explained how the technology works: “Umoove is tracking the face and eyes. These body parts have been moving and involved in the user’s experiences even before technology began watching and tracking them – have you ever seen someone play a game such as a flight simulator with a frozen or still face and body? Users get involved in the experience and move their bodies even though it has no real effect on the game. So the key from a [user experience] perspective is to respond to movements users naturally do in the real world and not make the user start doing new types of movements.”

New technologies give birth to new types of content, and that’s exactly what Kempinski is expecting: “Think of an object or product on the 2D screen that acts as if it is 3D because it changes based on the angle you are looking at the screen. You can move around the object on screen as if you were looking at an object that is really in front of you.”

You can download the Umoove Experience from the iTunes Store. Flying Experience, the game used by the company to showcase the technology, is included in the app. An SDK enabling iOS developers to track head movements in 2D (3D head tracking is a work in progress) has been made available, while the one for Android will surely come soon.

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